Getting Mark Whitworth contributing in some way to the website has been an objective of ours for a long time, such is the esteem in which he is held over here.
So we were chuffed to bits when an email from Mark appeared in our inbox offering to write a gig review for us. Naturally we welcomed this with open arms and was even more delighted with the choice of gig.
Mark’s Twitter moniker is @bringitonskippy and through our regular interactions we have learnt a lot about him. For instance we know he comes from the North, has strong opinions about the proper usage of “barm” to describe a roll, has a penchant for flowery shirts and plays bass in a band. We even know that he appeared in Blockbusters once (although he doesn’t like to talk about it).
Rather strangely what we have never discovered about Mark is why he is called “bringitonskippy” or why his profile pic is Mr Bump. To be fair we’ve never actually bothered to ask. Maybe one day he will tell us.
Anyway, this is what Mark has to say about his night with HMHB at The Leadmill.
HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT, SHEFFIELD LEADMILL, 3 SEP 2015
“Not long now before lollipop men are called Darren”
A couple of weeks ago I offered to write a gig review for the Everything Indie Over 40 website. Should be pretty easy, I thought – a band and a venue I love, how hard can it be? Writing this a few days after the event, I now realise why I’m not a journalist. They make bringing a gig to life look easy, while I feel like I’m writing through treacle. But anyway…
John Peel once said of Half Man Half Biscuit “when I die, I want them to be buried with me”. Wise words from the great man, and a sentiment shared no doubt by many a die-hard HMHB fan.
In my experience, people seem to be acquainted with Birkenhead’s finest in one of two ways. They have either vaguely heard of the odd tune, maybe The Trumpton Riots or Joy Division Oven Gloves, and perhaps consider them something of a novelty act; or they know every single word of every single song the band have ever released and go to every single gig. The middle ground seemed to be very sparsely occupied.
I’m happy to admit to falling very close to the latter end of this continuum of devotion, although my gig attendance is mainly restricted to just the Yorkshire area and so I had been heartily awaiting HMHB’s return to Sheffield for some months. This year’s roughly annual Sheffield gig sees them continue their travels around the city’s venues since the closure of their regular haunt, The Boardwalk, by pitching up at the legendary Leadmill.
I arrive just as the easy-on-the-ear support duo Rita Payne are finishing their spot, and take a look around for the usual suspects in the crowd.
- The redoubtable Roger, notepad in hand, who writes the reviews for www.hmhb.co.uk √
- The King Of Hi-Vis, with his unmissable eponymous bright yellow tabard – OH MY GOD HE’S NOT HERE! Although it’s quite busy which limits my view somewhat. He can’t be far away surely
- Numerous gentlemen of a certain age, sometimes balding, sometimes bespectacled, often both, who may or may not still live at home with their mums √
- More people wearing Dukla Prague away kits than (probably) wear Dukla Prague away kits at Dukla Prague away games √
There is a larger female contingent than usual as well which is very pleasing to see. Hopefully the lads’ appeal is expanding, which is no bad thing at all.
They arrive just after 9pm – no pleasantries, no “HELLO SHEFFIELD!”, just straight into the first song, the marvellous The Light At The End Of The Tunnel. With a back catalogue stretching back 30 years, encompassing in the region of 200 songs according to my iPod (other MP3 players are available), and a guaranteed two full hours, you never know what set you are going to get, although you can be sure you will get your money’s worth.
Tonight is certainly no different as they rattle through 29 songs overall. Personally I was hoping to hear two or three more from the latest album, 2014’s splendid Urge For Offal, but I guess you can’t have everything, and Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride, The Bane Of Constance (“Iron Age mums are haunting my cagoule” – how does Nigel come up with these lyrics?!) and Stuck Up A Hornbeam (a song ostensibly about depression, set to the jauntiest tune imaginable) more than hit the spot in any case.
They continue with rare outings for songs such as Christian Rock Concert and 4AD3DCD interspersing live staples like Fuckin ‘Ell It’s Fred Titmus (chorus shouted back by the entire crowd, of course), All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit, We Built This Village On A Trad. Arr. Tune, and the magnificent Vatican Broadside. If you listen to one HMHB song, make it this one (30 seconds long but beware the NSFW lyrics!)
The inter-song lulls are, as always, punctuated by the standard shouts of “What did God give us Neil?” and requests for various songs from the back catalogue. I’ve seen HMHB half a dozen or so times and never heard them play a song from the neglected Some Call It Godcore. However, tonight, a shout goes out for “anything from Godcore” and they duly launch into what seems to be a spontaneous version of Fear My Wraith, which delights the faithful.
Another novelty (for me at least) is witnessing Nigel forget the words to a song, in this case Rock And Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools. Thankfully, pretty much the entire crowd is on hand to fill in the blanks for him. Considering the depth of their back catalogue and the number of spoken word numbers it contains, I’m amazed this doesn’t happen much more often.
The main set comes to a close with National Shite Day (“there’s a man with a mullet going mad with a mallet in Millets”) and The Trumpton Riots, and the encore finishes on the stroke of 11pm with the regular closer Everything’s AOR.
We drift off into the Sheffield night fully satiated as always and already looking forward to the next local gig, whenever that may be.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mark’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email email@example.com or Twitter @IndieOver40